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Improvise Your Way Through Life

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This Sunday, HuffPost UK celebrates its third birthday, and rather than ask for piles of presents, we asked some of our favourite bloggers to gift us with their three best pieces of advice. Here, founder and executive producer of Funny Women Lynne Parker shares hers...

I have been asked to write about the three best bits of advice I have ever been given. Now, I am a bit of a sponge for advice. I will accept it by the bucket load! For some strange reason, people always like to give me their advice and I am not sure whether they do this because they think I need it or they want somebody to talk to. Either way, on an average day I get advice on fashion, how to deal with my age, the best way to get somewhere on public transport or how to relax!

So filtering all this background advice out and looking for the best stuff ever, has been no mean feat! I am going to go with the things that have had the biggest impact on me overall.

I cannot actually remember where this particular bit of advice began and believe it to be deep rooted in my childhood somewhere. It is very simple - 'improvise your way through life'. I remember my late father saying things like 'You hum it and I'll sing it' when I came to him with a challenge. This was his way of reiterating the art of improvisation and no task was ever too large.

And improvise we did, all through my childhood and the improvisation gene was evident in my mother and maternal grandparents as well. God knows how many school plays and birthday parties my family improvised its way through with countless costumes, sets and even makeshift theatre spaces and party venues.

To this day, I will take on most challenges (other than sporting challenges which I judiciously avoid) with the enthusiasm and optimism instilled in me by my family. This has manifested itself over the last 12 years of running Funny Women, the progression of which my father, sadly, never got to see. He died prematurely in 1998 and I continue to improvise in his memory.

I am proud of the fact that I also put my money (and my heart and soul) where my mouth is and my latest manifestation of this advice is the creation of the fabulous Funny Women Players who both entertain and advise on how to improvise your way through the business minefield. Priceless!

That said, along with 'Feel the Fear and do it Anyway' (thanks to Susan Jeffers), I believe that being able to improvise gets you through life in the most creative and enjoyable way possible.

Another brilliant bit of advice, which I admit that I do not always adhere to, is to 'never apologise'. This was delivered to me sagely by my former business partner in the last public relations consultancy I ran before embarking on my comedy career. My always immaculate-looking partner, who I had known from 20 odd years working in the media, was the epitome of the polished professional and always appeared in control of every situation. Until she gave me this piece of advice, I had not realised that the art of non-apology was what gave her the edge. She stood by her decision making and her self-belief carries her success to this day.

There are occasions when only sorry will heal the wound, but in business there is very little room for self-deprecation. I leave that to the comedians now.

I will end with a more recent bit of advice delivered originally by Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington (and so expertly reiterated just yesterday by HuffPostUK editor-in-chief Carla Buzasi in her keynote speech at the Women 1st Conference) when she launched her 'Third Metric' initiative last year. My interpretation of this is to 'live in the moment' which is often preached under the banner of 'mindfulness'.

However you digest this - the take out is that, in this busy world, we are all trying to keep up with the pressures imposed on us by the virtual highways and byways of electronic media, social media and more. We do not look after ourselves and life is externalised rather than internalised. I have been hugely pray to this and the net result has been recurrent bouts of depression and lack of self-belief.

The ethos of the Third Metric speaks for a whole media savvy generation and encourages us to redefine success beyond money and power. I spend far too much of my time worrying about the consequences of my actions and navel gazing about the past. The future is in my mind and I can make it happen.

Great advice, Arianna, and I am living part of my dream now by writing again - 'living in the moment' makes this possible for me. Watch this space for more!

To find out more about the Funny Women Players, visit their website here

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